20 Quotes from Killing Calvinism

20 Quotes from Killing Calvinism

What follows is a collection of 20 quotes that caught my attention as I read Greg Dutcher’s new book Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside (Cruciform Press, June, 2012):

“I am concerned that many Calvinists today do little more than celebrate how wonderfully clear their theological windshield is. But like a windshield, Reformed theology is not an end in itself. It is simply a window to the awe-inspiring universe of God’s truth, filled with glory, beauty, and grace. Do we need something like a metaphorical windshield of clear, biblical truth to look through as we hope to marvel at God’s glory? Absolutely. But we must make sure that we know the difference between staring at a windshield and staring through one.” (14)

[Quoting Kevin DeYoung:] “Here are the two most important things you need to know about the rise of the New Calvinism: it’s not new and it’s not about Calvin. Of course, some of the conferences are new. The John Piper–packed iPods are new. The neo-reformed blog blitz is new. The ideas, however, are not. ‘Please God, don’t let the young, restless, and reformed movement be another historically ignorant, self-absorbed, cooler-than-thou fad.’” (16)

“‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!’ (Romans 11:33). When Paul reflected on the doctrines that make up what we call Calvinism, he was moved to rejoice in God. This is the key to not killing off today’s Calvinist upsurge. When we read our books, attend our conferences, and ‘Piperup’ our iPods, the primary goal must not be to gain a better understanding of 16th- and 17th-century doctrine. It must be to be blown out of the water by the God who has chosen us in infinite mercy and wisdom.” (18)

“The best Calvinists that history has given to us were using Reformed theology to get a clearer hold on the majesty of God, the wonder of the gospel, and the exhilaration of Christian living. By God’s grace — yes, his sovereign grace — may we do the same.” (20)

[From a written prayer:] “May I never be more enamored with the theology that helps me see these things clearly than with seeing you.” (21)

“We cross a line when we are more focused on mastering theology than on being mastered by Christ.” (25)

“Jesus is not impressed with our Calvin, Edwards, or Machen when we cannot grow into people of kindness and self-control. It is simply time to grow up. We need to stop killing our Calvinism.” (30)

“Our Calvinism should lead us to an overpowering sense that our lives are not our own.” (32)

“Some Calvinists seem to think we were saved to proclaim God’s sovereignty rather than God himself.” (41)

“This world desperately needs to see a robust, healthy Calvinism that celebrates the fullness of God’s ways and works — not a lopsided Christian who cannot get off of the hobbyhorse of God’s sovereignty.” (43)

“Here was the leading author of the New Testament [Paul] and a man who arguably had more insight into the character and ways of God than you or I ever will, and if we need proof that he could believe 100 percent in predestination and 100 percent in evangelism, here it is: ‘I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory’ (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul paid a high personal price, suffering hardship and spending himself to bring the gospel and preach the gospel to people who were already certain to be saved!” (55)

[From a written prayer:] “Would you convict me every time I pervert your sovereignty into an excuse for my own sloth and self-indulgence.” (57)

“I believe that if I do not pause and thank God for all of the people he has brought into my life, I am killing Calvinism in the worst way. God has so ordained and orchestrated my life, down to the finest detail, that to refuse to see God’s hand in bringing many wonderful non-Calvinists into my life would be a rejection of Reformed theology.” (66)

“God does not need us to be his spin-doctors. When we feel compelled to make sure that his sacred Word does not give the ‘wrong impression,’ we are really demonstrating a tremendous lack of confidence in the clarity and authority of Scripture. . . . When we refuse to let our theology dictate Scripture, we are free to live with large doses of paradox. We are not afraid of passages that emphasize the need for good works. We do not feel awkward about verses that call on everyone to make a choice and take a stand for the Lord. Instead, we are free to put all of our hope in our sovereign God while striving to follow everything he has commanded us to do and be.” (74–75)

[From a written prayer:] “Just one sentence from you would have been a great gift, but you have given me a waterfall of truth in the pages of sacred Scripture.” (77)

“I believe with all my heart that Calvinism is a treasure. It beautifully summarizes and systematizes the truths concerning our salvation revealed in Scripture. But treasure in the hands of fools is a frightening prospect, and nothing fuels a fool more than pride. I pray that my fellow Calvinists would join me in hunting down every vestige of pride in our hearts, right down to the last lingering impulse of arrogance.” (82)

[Quoting John Piper:] “I love the doctrines of grace with all my heart, and I think they are pride-shattering, humbling, and love-producing doctrines. But I think there is an attractiveness about them to some people, in large matter, because of their intellectual rigor. They are powerfully coherent doctrines, and certain kinds of minds are drawn to that. And those kinds of minds tend to be argumentative.” (88)

[In speaking to our daily devotional routines:] “Let Calvinism devastate you to the core and bring you to tears. . . . Every day I ask God to show me just how lost I would be without him.” (90–91)

“Let’s accept the fact that Calvinism’s reputation has been falsely tainted and that few of the Christians who oppose it actually understand its tenets. Let’s accept the reality that our efforts will meet with opposition. If we believe that the heart of Calvinism is simply an accurate restatement of the gospel, then opposition based on misunderstanding should not surprise us — distortion of the gospel has been a principal goal of the enemy from the beginning.” (101–102)

“I have great remorse about the number of people that might say that they were at some point afraid to talk about predestination and election with me. If people did not feel at ease in my presence then I have done a great disservice. Let me say it more bluntly: I have sinned. May God grant me and every Calvinist who falters in this area the grace to commend Calvinism with a gentle, merciful spirit.” (103)

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Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God and the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015). He hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children.